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Creating a Headless Application Server


I suppose I get a little paranoid about users, including network managers, accessing a server on the physical machine. I understand that they can screw up a system remotely; however, I feel that it is at least a little safer to not allow people to touch a server. FreeBSD gives me the advantage of starting out with no GUI and no console access. I place set up a SPLASH screen with our company's logo. I know it only takes a keystroke to get the screen to go away but it is at least another step to make them stop and think about what they are about to do. I never have figured out why a server needs to be using a lot of the system resources either. To me a server should be doing as little unnecessary stuff as possible. This is one reason I prefer to use FreeBSD. Even if you select the default settings, FreeBSD has fewer processes starting (around 23) than any Windows server and from what I can tell most Linux distributions as well. When I configure FreeBSD in appliance mode, before I set up the applications that I want to run on the server, there are approximately 10 processes that will run when the computer starts.

This document will explain the steps to turn FreeBSD into a Headless Appliance Server. It is assumed that we have already loaded the operating system with the network using DHCP and can access the server using an SSH client. We will be changing the IP address of the server to with as the router, using a PCX splash screen, removing access to the console and stopping the internal email processes.